November’s almost here. Which means it’s almost my birthday. It also means we are approaching National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I took on the November NaNoWriMo Challenge in 2013 but I never blogged about it. Probably because I was busy writing a novel, and growing a human, so by December, I was too tapped out to do anything but eat leftover birthday cake.
The human I was growing is over a year old now, and my older one is in preschool. It’s about time I wrote about NaNoWriMo. This is the first of a two-part series. Stay tuned… in my next NaNoWriMo post I’ll share what I learned from the experience.
With no further ado, here’s how I did it:
My friend Joelle and I were working at the hospital one fateful October Saturday when NaNoWriMo came up in conversation. I’m not sure who said “I’ll do it if you do it,” but that’s all it took to set the wheels in motion. This was the same way another friend and I talked each other into doing our first Ironman triathlon many years ago. Please, no one take me out for drinks and say “I’ll have another baby if you do.”
2) Come up with an idea
In October, I
stole some material from was inspired by a family I met through work at said hospital. Truth, as we all know, is stranger than fiction, and hospitals are crawling with truth. If you think airports are great for people watching, you will LOVE hospitals. I marinated on my ideas never wrote anything down. I was saving my words for November, obviously.
3) Make a Schedule
I figured out what I wanted to accomplish at the end, and then worked backwards to determine what needed to happen each week and each day to get me there. To say you’ve completed NaNoWriMo, you have to write 50,000 words in 30 days. That’s 1,666 words per day. 1,666 words took me roughly an hour to write if memory serves me.
4) Sit Down and Write
The hour per day I needed was, in fact, available. I just had to prioritize it. Most days, I did. When I didn’t, I suffered, as I typed my way out of the word-debt hole I’d dug myself. I either got up early to write, or found an hour in the evening between Sweet Pea’s bedtime (7ish) and mine (10ish). I have an app installed on my Mac called “Freedom.” I give it a lot of credit for my completing NaNoWriMo. It lets you tell your computer how long to keep you off the internet. The only way to get back online before your time is up is to restart your computer.
5) Stop caring about quality
It was important that I didn’t care if anyone else ever read my words. (To date, no one has. Not even me.) It’s too easy to get mired down in self-doubt and self-loathing, which leads to impulsive deleting, a form of wordicide, which is the NaNoWriMo’ers and dare I say, every writer’s, worst enemy.
6) Dan’s Support
I would not have finished NaNoWriMo if it weren’t for Dan. I don’t mean that metaphorically, or like, “My husband is totes the wings beneath my wings!” I mean on November 30th, when I was woefully behind on my daily word count and I told him no one would care if I got it done by December 2nd, and I was sick with a horrible cold and couldn’t take any medication because I was pregnant and wanted to crawl into bed with a box of tissues and Breaking Bad on my iPad, he told me I had to finish it. To make sure I did, he took Sweet Pea, who was almost two at the time, and left the house for eight hours, leaving me alone with my computer and 12,000 words waiting for me to write them. That was his way of saying, “I know you can do this and I am not going to give you an excuse to fail.” That might not be motivation for everyone, but it worked for me. At 10:12pm, November 30th, I finished. You better believe I would have been popping the cork on some bubbly if I hadn’t been preggo. Instead, I had half a glass of red wine and a mug of herbal tea, and texted Joelle in all caps with way too many exclamation marks and emojis.
I don’t know why I feel compelled to share this but, just so you know, I considered a click-bait-y title such as “6 Shockingly Simple Steps to Getting NaNoWriMo DONE!” but that’s just not me. I hate clicking on links that are supposed to be Life Changing because by the time the page has loaded and I skim the first couple paragraphs and realize 2 minutes have gone by that I could have spent doing what I actually got online to do, my life has changed-for the worse, as my ambivalence toward my iPhone is rekindled, and I start to wonder why I feel compelled to read random stuff that shows up in my social media feeds, and I hate that. And thought it seems that has nothing to do with NaNoWriMo, in a way, it has everything to do with it… NaNoWriMo- or anything you want to accomplish means focusing on that one thing. You can’t create extra hours in the day, but you can make the most of the time you do have. Every little distraction adds up to create a barrier between you and your goal. More on all my NaNoReVaLaTiOns in my next post…